Ralph Edwin Clark age 89, passed away late Thursday night August 6th, 2020 at the Whispering Pines Assisted Living in Roundup, MT, with family & close friends by his side. Ralph was born February 1st, 1931. He was the 5th child born to William Bryan “Todd” and Ethel May (Loomis) Clark, on his Grandparents, Fred & Emma (Dent) Loomis’ original homestead land in the Blackfoot Brusett community of Garfield County, MT. Todd and Ethel and Ethel’s parents, Fred & Emma Loomis had traded homesteads in 1926. Ralph recalled loving sheep from a very early age, he said from the time he could walk, the blatting of sheep would always draw his interest to them, always wanting to go by the pens to peer in at them. He remembered many times, herding sheep with his grandmother Emma (Dent) Loomis. Ralph grew up working with his folks where they grew wheat, ran cattle & sometimes sheep at times. Ralph remembers rare pleasures of hooking up a radio to a battery to listen to boxing match events. Evening rides to play cards with the neighbors or attend community dances.
If you know Ralph, you know, he’s got a lot of stories to tell. Some passed down & some truly lived. Ralph tells about breaking horses for ranchers along the way. Jim Ryan can give a good account of when him, Ralph, & Arnold Mury was once up around the Holly Flats, left their horses there with a rancher, took 3 of the ranchers green horses to break, headed out across the frozen lake to Zortman, come back, picked up their pay, their horses & headed back home. One of Ralph’s most enjoyed trip was when him & Jim Ryan headed out for Yellowstone Park Aug 3rd, 1947. They made it to Billings during fair time but were needing a grubstake way sooner than expected. They heard about the Tschergi Ranch South of Billings needing some hands to help trail cattle. They got a job with Tschergi for several weeks, never making it to Yellowstone Park. Ralph continued to work on the family ranch, He started shearing sheep around the neighboring country. Hellyer was one person that got him really interested in shearing sheep. On August 12th, 1949, Ralph married Kay Nordahl in Miles City, MT. Ralph and Kay lived and worked the family ranch at Brusett, MT. While starting their family of one son and three daughters, Ralph and Kay also delivered mail from approximately 1949 to 1955 on the Brusett / Mury route for the Brusett Post Office, many times needing to use a snow machine in the winter.
Through the years, Ralph ran heavy equipment for Vaughn Newland, as well as drove truck for Wayne Hunter Trucking out of Jordan. Ralph became a good sheep shearer, shearing for area neighbors, later going on the road with other shearing crews. Sometimes taking Kay and the kids along during shearing season. Their shearing circuit would take them into Canada & back down through Montana, Wyoming, Colorado, Utah, Idaho, and the Dakota’s. In 1960, Ralph invented & built the first portable shearing plant, which was an 8 man plant. Teaching others his shearing trade was one of Ralph’s lifetime enjoyments, along with raising and training his Border Collie dogs to help him. On the off-season of shearing, Ralph and Kay also ran a Hunting and Guide service from their ranch for many years, thus making many longtime forever friends. Ralph and Kay lived a short time in Laurel, MT. then moved to Musselshell, MT. in 1999. While in Musselshell, Ralph loved taking care of his yard, trees, and raised gardens. He built a “One Man” stationary shearing unit in his shop so that if someone had a handful of sheep, or goats, he could shear for them. Other hobbies Ralph enjoyed was fishing, rock hunting, collecting cedar trees and roots, to make various items like birdhouses, lamps, planters, etc. Ralph was an avid helper to his wife Kay when she began having health issues, and daughter Judy, when she was diagnosed with lung cancer. November 17th, 2014 Ralph was run over by his tractor, breaking his back, ribs, wrist & punctured both lungs. His faithful dog, Shearie, stayed with him until his neighbors Robert & Mary Carroll found him and got help coming. It was 12 weeks before he was able to come home. Jennette Lander come into their lives and made it possible to live at home for another 3 years.
In May of 2017 Ralph moved into the Whispering Pine Assisted Living. What a Godsend for Ralph and family. Ralph was preceded in death by his parents, daughter Judy Clark, wife Kay, brothers’ Emmett & (sister-in-law Rosie), Earl Clark, Nephew Brian Clark. Sisters’ Nellie (brother in-law Paul) Hopkins, & Marie (brother in-law Bill) Strickland, brother in-laws’ Fred Nordahl, Cecil Weeding & Richard Lambert, sisters’ & brothers’ in-laws Evelyn & (Kern) Marks, Clara & (Roy) great-nephew Jacob) Miller, brothers in-law, Great-Grandson Trent Schreiber, Great-Grand daughters’ Cora Beth Meckel, & Kortni South, As well as a very special friend Nina from Whispering Pines.
Ralph is survived by son Edwin (Janet) Clark of Billings, MT, daughter Kathy (Kenny) South of Jordan, MT, daughter Denise (Alvin) Rich of Nye, Mt, Brother Alven (Patsy) Clark of Billings, MT, and sister Ada Weeding of Jordan, MT, Sister in-law Rose Marie Neuman of Muchea, West Australia. 9 Grandchildren, 25 Great-Grandchildren, 4 Great-Great Grandchildren.
Ralphs’ family would like to extend a special thanks to Ralphs’ many caregivers, Jennette Landers, Granddaughters Donna Rich, Dawn Clark & Jackie Degner. Great-Granddaughters Samantha South, & Charlie Saylor. Rose, Ruth, Kellie, Laura, Barb, Heather, Celsa, of Whispering Pines Assisted Living. Hospice as well as the many friends and family not mentioned, that stopped in to visit with Ralph and Shearie.